A workshop on “Building a Career in Theatre” was held at the Alberta College Campus of MacEwan University, hosted by CBC personalities and stars of The Irrelevant Show, Jana O’Connor and Dave Clarke.
Distinguished types of individuals gathered to learn about ways to attain credibility in the acting world. The significant take away message from this event was mainly learning how simple, middle-class individuals can turn their life’s efforts of getting noticed by the big important influences in the world into themselves.
They hand over some major pointers to help entry level actors:
Stay creative, but still have enough time to make money
Find like minded people and link up with them
Social media expansion, it’s a legitimate hobby
Be Persistent with potential employers
Get a Youtube channel going and display your talents
Find your niche, what motivates you?
Being open with your colleagues is a building block for success
They cautioned the eager young amateur actors to partake in volunteer opportunities, but to ensure that they are not losing consciousness of their primary end goal. It can be easy to lose track of what the initial goal was when volunteering for a non-profit organization or another acting opportunity according to Clarke and O’Connor.
Discussing the various theatre productions in the sea, a couple of familiar names popped up. We heard about the Fringe Festival, Art’s Council, and Jubilation’s Dinner Theatre, where all genres of acting and talents are invited to come show off their skills, whether that is musical performance, or street shows. While some of them may be more informal, others are much more catered to a different kind of audience. They emphasized that young actors should not “lose hope” in their everyday journey to being successful, and that it takes some time.
O’connor teaches improv on her down time at Rapid Fire while Clarke freelances on the side. They both encourage for young actors to participate in opportunities that provide them with experience with skills in their field of interest. It helps grow the technical skills as an actor that employers are looking for in higher positions for theatre productions.
“How do you find the time to balance paid work and volunteering?”
The “free gig” O’Connor found to be advantageous for networking, and building a strong back bone of credibility to her name in the theatre.
“Had I not done that, Peter Brown had never met me or seen me perform… If you’re really passionate about a company volunteering is a great way to get started” says O’connor.
Overall, both Clarke and O’Connor agree that it is imperative to know when the time comes to step back from volunteer opportunities and start hunting for a more profitable oppurtunity.
There been many discussion on social media about ‘Bell’s Let’s Talk’ Campaign, I decided to put my effort into advocating for mental health awareness and ensure that not just people in my life knew but anybody who ever crosses my path is informed.
Lately through interactions with people, I see that compassion and empathy are rare to find in people. I don’t recall the last time I came a cross a person who genuinely invested effort into an interaction purely out of interest, to learn more about the likes/dislikes, values, and goals in life of another human being.
When was the last time you heard someone say “are you okay?”
This is another potential issue that needs to be explored on behalf of us little people. We may not truly understand it now. But even those living in the glitz and glamour, those known as celebs are still battling/ struggling with the same mental battles that us little people are. They portray it in other ways.
Read between the lines, even G-Eazy’s new up and coming track “Me, myself, and I” is an nexus built as a call for help, or an indirect message to people that something is wrong. That he is tired of “turning up” a slang term known for partying amongst today’s young adults. We may look up to them or look at them as unreachable, but what it comes down to is we are all people. Each one of us is composed of the same basic biological matter.
He touches on the issue of people who simply stay in his life to benefit themselves only. They continue to be present in his life and not because they care about him but just because they have found how to use him for his fame, and money.
It’s clearly stated there. He wants to break off from the world and sulk in his own space.
At this time it is really important to identify who is truly, genuinely and honestly there in your life for YOU, and who is there just to benefit for themselves. Either way, remember, your mental health sits higher than anything else in your life. That new job, the new car, social get togethers, events, classes, work. Put yourself first. Always remember that in the end, you are going to be there for yourself. It IS nice to have a support system, but sometimes you are the only one who has yourself, so as the song goes….
Let’s explore that question… culinary practice is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about art. At the National Congress on Culture, Opening Cocktail, I went out and asked culinary experts about food creation as an art form.
Top Chef, Nelvin Reyes believes that in order to gain someone’s attention in the industry, an artist must use their culinary expertise to keep the guests or audiences entertained, whether it’s the way the dish is presented or the details which are added afterwards. The arts, heritage, diversity and spirit in the community, is told through these different characteristics that make up the cultural and artistic person.
Other culinary experts believe that the only thing which gets them ahead of the game is word of mouth. Sous Chef at North 53, Josh Dissanayake says, “it’s more important to do what you want to do than to know how to do something”. Josh took me through the steps to create the Duck Rilette with Salt Cured Foie Gras & Sweet N’Sour Jelly. With immaculate attention to detail, he provided evidence to backup the claim that culinary practice is indeed an art form.
Josh says that “anyone can cook if you learn how to, but to be an expert you have to cook beyond toast and eggs.” He embraces the culinary arts as a positive challenge and encourages taking the “least easiest thing to cook and make it into something likeable.” The challenge is what motivates him.
Culinary kitchens don’t often allow guests to view the actual kitchen. But at Josh’s restaurant, he lets guests tour the kitchen to see how food is prepared. People enjoy knowing where their food comes from, and it’s important for the community to see the hard work that goes into the art of food. It’s not just simply “stuffing your face,” says Josh.
When asked about his strategies for progressing in the culinary field, Josh emphasized that work is part of his identity, and his personality is brought out in the food.
Culture Days and National Broadcast Partner CTV (Bell Media) invited Canadian journalism and media students to participate in a Student Reporter and Media Internship program during the Annual National Congress on Culture in Edmonton, Alberta on May 7 and 8, 2015. Five lucky students participated in this innovative program including a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the CTV Newsroom in Edmonton and a once-in-lifetime mentoring session with Marci Ien, co-host of CTV’s Canada AM.
We, as cities, and communities, must create an environment, or habitat where each and every one of us does not just survive, but thrive. That’s the impetus of Cities for People, says Shawn Van Sluys, Executive Director of Musagetes Foundation who facilitated a conversation about the national initiative during #Congress2015.
With partners across the country, Cities for People explores a series of broad themes: CityScapes, New Economies, Citizen Spaces, and Art and Society. At #Congress2015, Van Sluys focused on the work of the Art and Society team who have been experimenting on changing the stories and practices of the community through arts and culture. Their goal is to find a way to make art more accessible in cities, and they recognize that they will need to use different techniques for different cities.
Van Sluys wants to transform unused spaces in cities into useable spaces. For him it is about people contributing to the creation of their city. People should “not just be living in concrete blocks but should have a reflection of themselves in the city,” he says.
The creation of Cities for People reflects the urgency to understand each other across the world. According to Sluys, the arts build empathy and have the capacity to increase love between people of different cultures across the world. With an interest in art education and centrality of arts, Sluys asks: how do we create a more accessible space for the arts? “How do we connect arts in a meaningful way to the urgent issues and concerns in society?”
The SenseLabs project in Lethbridge, Alberta has been looking at ways to address these questions. Participants looked at wasted spaces in the city, such as spaces between boulevards, and came up with a two-week project to “fill” those wasted spaces. A red carpet was placed in all the places that are overlooked in the city.
“Our perception of the world is developed through artistic thinking, and when we are living in a city where every building or potential artistic space can be creatively decorated, then members of the community should join together to make it a better place to live,” says Sluys.
The SenseLabs engaged a group of non-artists to be creative, and discovered that most of them had some experience with drawing that they carried with them from early childhood.
So “how do you make arts central and meaningful in our community?,” asks Sluys.
Cities for People suggest that individuals in a community do not become interested in arts and culture until they practice it themselves. Sluys says we should remove barriers in the cultural industry.
“We are not paying to see that piece of art the same as we do for outdoor concerts. There’s a difference between not paying for art because it’s worthless and engaging audience with complimentary performances and street art,” he says.
The question we ask moving forward is, “how can we hold ourselves responsible for improvements in our city?”
The 2015 National Congress on Culture brought many laughs, new connections, exciting and insightful new experiences, and most of all, the biggest collection of art in all its’ forms. The biggest take away from the Congress was learning that art does not just mean a painting on a canvas; but rather it can evolve into a dance, instrumental number, song, poetry, multimedia production, culinary arts, and just simply words in relation to media interviews; you’ll see this art get knocked out of the water by Marci Ien, Co-host of CTV’s Canada AM. Marci mentored the CTV/Culture Days Student Reporters on Saturday morning, sharing her profound and insightful stories that inspired the emerging reporters and taught them important tips about the journalism field.
The first exhilarating experience involving art was the red carpet welcome by the improv team. They made “regular folks” feel like celebrities by asking to pose for photographs with delegates and requesting their autographs
Their attempt to make everyone feel welcome succeeded through performance. This selfie-taking skits prompted a lot of conversation at the start of the event and set the tone for the rest of the day. We, as the CTV/Culture Days Student Reporters, were able to experience the making of a Culture Days video titled “What’s Your Story?” directed by Culture Days’ Communications Manager & Content Producer, Elvira Trugila, working with her camera man, Tom Gunia.
Each person took a turn speaking in front of the camera and holding up a sign that said “What’s Your Story?”; many delegates from different cultures participated in the video. It was a fun and educational experience for Student Reporters to be part of a professional artistic video.
During the break between events, the Student Reporters and Congress delegates enjoyed a unique performance by a contemporary dance group which took the hallways of the Citadel Theatre by storm. They presented a series of short dance sequences with an old fashioned record player as their musical source. The women flowed through each motion like a wave in the water, flawlessly and with grace.
The art of journalism is often overlooked as it is considered abstract. People often do not consider someone who is using words or photographs, instead of a canvas and paintbrush to connect with audiences on an emotional level, as an artist. During Congress 2015, one talented individual managed to accomplish this through her attentive and careful journalistic skills. Marci Ien conducted an interview with facilitators, community organizers and award-winning interdisciplinary visual artists Eric & Mia. They spoke about their motivation to use performance and art as tools for social action. They are also driven to create a tightly knit community through participatory performance by citizens. These cutting-edge artists were able to answer a collection of focused questions about their emerging art, and struggles as artists. Here, they can be seen answering questions for Marci, while inspiring the entire auditorium.
On the topic of dance, there was more culture to absorb watching the talented Running Thunder Dancers perform a traditional Native American tribal dance at the Awards Cocktail & Dinner. The Running Thunder Dancers are an Edmonton-based First Nations dance group that promotes health and wellness through their talented routines. Wearing Jingle Dresses (also known as Regalia), dancers performed a healing dance featuring intricate, controlled footwork with poise, endurance and grace. The Running Thunder Dancers brought the entire dining room full of people to life; all eyes watched in amazement as one dancer held several hoops and executed various types of tricks and maneuvers. The dancers put an artistic twist to the start of the evening.
The delegates and the CTV/Culture Days student interns were able to enjoy a lovely Awards Dinner & Cocktail while being entertained by some of the most interesting and unique performers and artists among Canada’s cultural community. This included the Vancouver-based multi-instrumentalist Chloe Ernst performing songs from her debut album “Dedicated State”. The album grabbed the attention of the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2008, where she won the ‘Emerging Artist of the Year Award’ sending her on tour across Canada playing at folk festivals, clubs, and coffee shops. She is building her career through a loyal fan base and getting to know them one song at a time.
Another talented performer during the Awards Cocktail & Dinner was Edmonton’s Lindsey Nagy. Renowned Canadian singer/songwriter Jully Black called Lindsey “the future of Canadian music” after hearing her play at a 2006 showcase. With fifteen years of performing under her belt, Lindsey has performed with the Red Piano Players, Gateway Big Band, Grant MacEwan Showcase Band and many other musicians. In a flourishing career, the singer/songwriter currently performs at the Red Piano and teaches voice and piano.
Award winners posing with Marci Ien
To top off an rewarding night, all these memories would not have been possible without the talented services of one particular artist and owner of Edge Photography, Paul Thurlin. His photographs did not miss one moment of the 2015 National Congress on Culture.
A final thank you to the woman who made it possible for the CTV/Culture Days Student interns to be a part of such an incredible opportunity, Culture Days’ Communications Manager & Content Producer, Elvira Truglia.